“A zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures. The term zoetrope is from the Greek words ‘zoe’, ‘life’ and τρόπος - tropos, ‘turn’. It may be taken to mean ‘wheel of life’.”
In September 1980, independent film-maker Bill Brand noticed that the Myrtle Avenue station along the New York subway line was abandoned and dark. Brand transformed the space and installed a type of linear zoetrope he called the “Masstransiscope”. This zoetrope had 228 slits on a subway wall with illuminated hand painted panels behind it. Millions of riders in subways moving past the display saw the motion-picture display. This instillation has since inspired advertisers and other artists to use the subway tunnel walls to produce similar work.
Usually, as a rider of the subway system you are subject to staring out into the black abyss of the dark underground walls. In 1980, Brand noticed that the Myrtle Avenue station was not being used anymore and took a new perspective to give a seemingly useless space a new use. Furthermore, in using a zoetrope, a device which helped introduce the idea of film in the 1800s, he gave an old technology a new format in a fun and inspiring way.